The facts are unproven allegations of the Plaintiff and all commentary is based upon the allegations, the truthfulness and accuracy of which are likely in dispute.
DRIVETIME AUTOMOTIVE GROUP, INC. AND DRIVETIME SALES AND FINANCE COMPANY, LLC v. LEAD DISPATCH INTERNATIONAL, INC. d/b/a COMMUNITY AUTO CREDIT
DISTRICT OF ARIZONA (PHOENIX)
Just another of the many lawsuits over keying advertisements off competitor trademarks on search engines.
The Plaintiffs are the nation’s largest automobile dealership with 79 locations specializing in the sale of used cars. The Defendant is an Internet-based company that has partnered with companies nationwide to provide automobile financing. The Defendant is alleged to be purchasing keywords of the Plaintiffs’ trademark in order to generate sponsored search listings as advertisements.
Plaintiffs allege federal trademark infringement, federal unfair competition, common law trademark infringement, and common law unfair competition. They are requesting injunctive relief, damages arising out of CAC’s unlawful conduct, all state and federal statutory and common law relief available, all costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees incurred in connection with this action plus appropriate interest, punitive and enhanced damages, and such other and further relief the Court may deem just and proper. Traverse Internet Law Cross-Reference Number 1424.
GLAXOSMITHKLINE LLC v. UNITED TREATMENT CENTERS, INC., ET AL.
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK (BROOKLYN)
How close can you get to a trademark before you have a trademark infringement problem? No one really knows since the issue is one of consumer confusion and in many cases you don’t know whether the consuming public is going to be confused until the use of the potentially infringing mark is live and in the marketplace. It is always advisable to try and get a “legal clearance” opinion from a law firm before launching a new product or service to make sure that you understand the risks. Part of that analysis is the identity of the owners of the trademarks which you may arguably be infringing upon. In other words, if you are in a grey area, and a trademark is owned by a Fortune 500 company, the issue is often not whether you will ultimately be right or wrong in using the name, but whether you are prepared to commit huge resources to litigating a case.
The Plaintiff is a large pharmaceutical and consumer product company that owns “Aquafresh” as a trademark for toothpaste, toothbrushes, and other oral care products. The Defendants are alleged to be using “Aquafree” as a name for its line of toothbrushes and dentifrice on the web and extensively on social networks.
Claims in the lawsuit include federal trademark infringement, federal unfair competition, false description, false designation of origin, federal dilution, state trademark dilution and injury to business reputation, unfair and deceptive trade practices, and common law unfair competition. Plaintiff requests relief in the form of extensive injunctive relief, destruction of all products, advertisements, and other materials using the infringing mark, payment of profits resulting from use of the infringing mark, actual damages, interest, exemplary and punitive damages, costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees, and such other relief the Court deems just and proper. Traverse Internet Law Cross-Reference Number 1425.
RACHAEL KATZ v. JOHN LAKEY
DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS (SPRINGFIELD)
You can’t just tell whether a competitor is using your trademark by viewing the website as rendered through your browser. It is a very common practice to use “hidden text” which basically, in its simplest form, is the repetitive use of a competitor’s trademark in the HTML code of the site but with the background of the page designated to be the same color as the text so that the page appears to be blank. I’ve seen this practiced on many occasions. Obviously Google’s spiders use the HTML of a page to index results so this practice can mislead Google to think that the competitor’s website is highly authoritative or relevant to a search for your own business. If a competitor ever has a blank page or blank area on its website simply perform a “view source” function in your browser and take a look at the HTML to see exactly what is going on with the code.
The Plaintiff is an individual with a principle place of business in Massachusetts and the Defendant resides in Tennessee. The Plaintiff claims that it has a common law trademark in “KatzEye”. The Plaintiff and Defendant are competitors operating as Internet retailers of focusing screens for high-end cameras, which is the product to which the trademark has been attached by the Plaintiff. The Defendant is alleged to have launched a website that includes hidden text incorporating the Plaintiff’s trademarks.
Defendant is accused of trademark infringement, false designation or origin and false representation, cybersquatting, unfair competition, unjust enrichment, conversion, unfair or deceptive acts and practices, and tortious interference with business relations and prospective business relations. Plaintiff requests preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, statutory damages in an amount of $100,000 per confusingly similar metatag, actual damages, treble damages, exceptional damages, costs, expenses, attorneys’ fees, pre- and post-judgment interest, and an accounting of profits. Traverse Internet Law Cross-Reference Number 1426.